By Tyler Ohmann
A bit of a back-and-forth game swayed the way of Upsala Swanville Area (USA) in the end, giving the Patriots a 38-20 season-opening win at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (HLWW).
Junior Jorgan Kiley hit senior back Simon Brice for a 33-yard score to draw first blood for USA.
After an HLWW score, Brice put the Patriots back in the lead, 14-8, with a 12-yard scamper and a two-point conversion run.
Again, HLWW drew the game close, but Michael Lange banged in from three yards out for USA, and Kiley ran in a conversion to put the Patriots up by 10 points.
USA added another score with a minute left in the half when Kiley found senior Peyton Jackson for an 18-yard score. Lange ran in a two-point conversion to put the Patriots up 30-12.
However, just 15 seconds later, the Lakers completed a 53-yard bomb to keep the game within striking distance heading into the second half.
However, the USA defense buckled down in the second half, not allowing an HLWW score.
The Patriots mustered just one score themselves, a two-yard plunge from senior Dalton Louden. Brice followed up with a conversion run to give the Patriots some extra insurance.
USA forced two turnovers, while not committing one themselves.
Kiley finished 11-for-15 for 137 yards. Brice ran for 107 yards on 23 carries, while Louden averaged 7.7 yards per carry, toting the rock 11 times for 85 yards.
Junior Alex Thieschafer picked off a Laker pass, and also hauled in seven balls for 60 yards on offense.
USA looked for its second win at its home opener Friday against New York Mills, but results were not available by press time.
The Patriots will be at home again, Friday, when they host Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sundberg, at 7 p.m., in Swanville.
Royals hang on to top
Sauk Centre in season opener
It was a tale of two halves in the Sept. 1 season opener between the Royalton and Sauk Centre football teams.
The visiting Royals appeared to be cruising to an easy victory after three first-half scores.
Marshall Meehl hauled in touchdowns of 51 and 25 yards. The first was from Zach Gottwalt on his only pass of the game, while the second came from junior starting quarterback Gavin Suska.
Sandwiched between those scores was a Wyatt Lahr interception return for 40 yards and a touchdown. Senior Cole Wentland ran in a pair of two-point conversions to make it a 22-0 halftime lead.
The second half belonged to the Mainstreeters, who began to turn things around with a 46-yard interception for a touchdown of their own.
Midway through the fourth, Sauk Centre pulled to within seven with another score.
The Mainstreeters got the ball back with a little more than two minutes left, but the Royals’ defense held stout, turning them over on downs after a big third down sack.
Royalton ran down the clock and earned the season-opening win.
Riley Smieja carried much of the time-chewing role, running 25 times for 135 yards.
Defensively, senior Jason Kasella and sophomore Josh Smieja each had a sack, while senior Colton Murphy had another interception to pair with Lahr’s.
Royalton played in its home opener against Parker’s Prairie, Friday, but results were not available by press time.
The Royals will travel to play at Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, Friday.